During his lifetime, Franceso Geminiani (1687-1762) was considered to be the equal of Handel and Corelli. Geminiani studied with the latter between 1704 and 1706 and was responsible for introducing his teacher's music in London, where he settled in 1714. Not only did Geminiani perform Corelli's music, but he also reworked many of the sonatas for full string orchestra. Geminiani's motives, of course, were not purely altruistic - his arrangements and performances helped to bolster his reputation and his capital.
Geminiani made the present arrangement of Corelli's Sonata, Op. 5, No. 12 in 1729, along with arrangements of the rest of the last six sonatas of that set. According to his Treatise of Good Taste in the Art of Musick (1749), he heard Corelli "acknowledge the Satisfaction he took in composing it, and the Value he set upon it." The folia (follia in Italian), a dance of Portuguese origin whose earliest examples date from the 15th century, provides the basis of Corelli's Sonata, a set of variations on the folia. (Corelli's Sonata is probably the most famous example of variations on the folia from the Baroque, although Marais, D'Anglebert, and Vivaldi also produced such works, as did later composers such as C.P.E. Bach, Alessandro Scarlatti, and Sergei Rachmaninoff.) Geminiani takes what had been a demanding virtuoso work for solo violin and continuo and transforms it into a thrilling showpiece for string band, with concertino and ripieno juxtaposed to heighten the contrast between variations.
John Mangum is the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Program Designer/Annotator.